With nomination day for the 2nd March elections just a few days away, the Guyana Elections Commission is hoping that the political parties and their candidates will be honest about the suitability and eligibility of those persons who will be listed as candidates.
At a media session hosted by the Guyana Press Association today, the Public Relations Officer of the Elections Commission, Yolanda Ward explained that the Guyana Elections Commission has no authority to scrutinize the accuracy of information being provided by the political parties and their candidates although the electoral laws set out detailed guidelines.
She said while it is required for the candidates and their parties to be honest about the information they are providing, GECOM’s role is to collect the information as it suits the requirements to be a candidate.
“I’m not sure particularly from GECOM’s end, in terms of a challenge to a statutory declaration, but as it says legally, it’s a legal form, its statutory declaration and therefore it is the expectation that is, as candidates on a list, that you will be adhering to what are the statutory requirements on those forms” Ms. Ward noted.
Although the Constitution of Guyana prohibits persons who hold citizenship of another country from contesting the national elections for a seat in parliament, there have been many cases over the years where that was taking place.
It was only recently that the Court made a definitive statement on the issue following the no-confidence vote against the government.
The GECOM Public Relations Officer touched on that issue today and explained that “as far we know the laws speak about a candidate being qualified to be elected to the National Assembly but there is no detail there that says this is what the person must have or possess but the law speaks about the Candidates being qualified to be Members of the National Assembly. But of course that language is vague, there are no details there to say, this is what it should be, I think it would be the onus on political parties in their selection of their candidates to ensure that that is done”.
She said the Elections Commission has been looking closely at the electoral laws especially in wake of the Court cases that came after the no-confidence motion.
“Well, at least from GECOM’s end, we have had our period of perusing the laws based on recent developments and so on that…there is nothing there as I would have indicated from the start of this presentation, everything GECOM does as it relates to the election must be done within the confines of the law, so while we understand your particular the concern we have to be guided by what the law says until there are changes to the law”, Ward noted.
The political parties have been completing the process for nomination day which is this Friday. Following a ruling by the Court last year, some Members of Parliament on both sides of the house, the government and the opposition were forced to resign because of their dual citizenship.